09 February 2008

at the table

I've been gradually making my way through Jürgen Moltmann's autobiography, A Broad Place. In chapter 19, he reflects on his time working at the Roman Catholic journal, Concilium. (I've read it myself on many occasions. It's a very good publication.) It was started right after Vatican II (1962-1965), when Rome began reaching out in new ways. Moltmann's work with the journal, both as contributor and then as editorial committee member, was just one small way in which that new spirit was manifested.

As a Protestant, he was in a rare position of getting to know many Roman Catholic theologians in every part of the world. When his term on the editorial committee was up, he wrote a farewell article. He includes it in his book. In the final paragraphs, he reflects on being at the table.

"I have always participated [in the Eucharist]," Moltmann says, "for from the time of my early ecumenical beginnings I have made it a rule that wherever and whenever I hear the voice of Christ inviting me to his table fellowship, I come--in whatever church it may be." He speaks of members of Concilium's fellowship who fell into ill-favor with the Roman hierarchy, especially with Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now Pope Benedict XVI). He finishes the letter by saying, "let me in closing extol Concilium's table fellowship, which at the end of every annual meeting brought the heated participants together in peace and earthly enjoyment."

I've included images of the Lord's Supper and a quiet lunch my wife and I enjoyed some years ago at Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville. There's nothing like gathering at the table to foster an amicable spirit!

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